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Mum under fire for taking seven-year-old to AA meetings: 'More damage than good'

By Merryn Porter |

There are plenty of times parents wonder if they have done the wrong thing when it comes to raising children.

Sometimes parents find themselves in situations where they don't really have a choice of whether to expose their child to a grown-up situation.

Now, a single mum has asked the internet if she was wrong for making her seven-year-old accompany her to Alcoholics Anonymous meetings.

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The woman attends regular AA meetings, often with her son. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

The woman, 31, who called herself Miss_Lost_1023, took to Reddit's Am I the A---hole column earlier this month to ask for advice.

She said she was the mother of an "amazing son who is incredibly sweet, well-mannered and inquisitive."

"I quit drinking about two months ago and have been adamant about doing the AA program correctly 90 meetings in 90 days, sponsor, daily readings, therapy, etc," the woman said.

"I really want to be a good mum and make up for my bad decisions when I was drinking," adding she never harmed him or put him in danger but "wasn't present and am remorseful about my drinking past."

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"The problem is that I'm a single mum who works full-time and I live in a small town. Because it's small, there aren't a lot of options in terms of AA meetings, so the only one I can really attend is the 5.30pm based on my schedule and my son's," she explained.

The woman shares custody with the boy's father, so attends alone when he is with his dad, but admitted "on my days I have to bring my son."

The recently sober single mum asked the internet if she was wrong to take her son to AA meetings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

"I don't have anyone to leave him with and babysitting wouldn't work because nobody wants to babysit for just one hour," she continued. "So, I take my son to meetings."

While he "isn't too thrilled" to attend, she didn't think it was a big issue until her former partner found out and berated her for exposing their child to "that kind of atmosphere" and "those kinds of people."

"The truth is, 'those people' are what have saved my life. They are so sweet and good with my son and, while sometimes the subject matter can be a little adult-ish, we mostly talk about how to be better people and live a spiritually-sound existence and to help our fellow man," she said.

"I personally think it's good for my son to be surrounded by people that are trying to better themselves and also to let him know at an early age the effects of alcoholism as it runs in my family."

The woman ended the post by asking if she was "doing more damage than good" by taking her son to meetings.

The vast majority of people who have voted so far agreed she was in the wrong, although many commenters felt for the woman.

"You're between a rock and a hard place, but yes, it's inappropriate subject matter for a child," said one, adding it wasn't fair on the other attendees. "It might make other members feel they can't speak [about] their real experiences, meaning they cannot get anything out of the meetings. The topics often cover abuse, death, etc and that's not appropriate for a child. It will not be fair to other members, or your child."

The single mum has been taking her son with her to AA meetings. (Getty Images/iStockphoto)

Another agreed, writing, "I have been to an AA meeting before. In there I heard people telling stories on having sex, being abusive or being abused by partners and lead to conversations regarding other drugs. Definitely not appropriate for a seven-year-old."

"An AA meeting is not the sort of place to take your child and I'm surprised other members haven't objected to it before this," said another, adding it could also stop her from being honest.

"Can you discuss everything that led you to stop drinking? Does he know your dark secrets that you need to discuss and let go of?"

Others pointed out it could become problematic in their small town.

"Children do not understand the concept of anonymous," said one. "Oh good point. Seven is still an age where they might see someone at the store and be like 'Mummy, look, the guy from your meetings'," said another.

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But at least one person had another view.

"To be completely fair, I was the seven-year-old child in the room for my mum. The kids are not listening. I retained absolutely nothing from any AA meeting until I was 14, and the things I retained are things that my younger brothers did not," said one.

The woman later thanked everyone for their comments and insights, and admitted she hadn't thought about how other members felt about having a child there.

"I will say that the group is all old-timers that have years of sobriety and largely just talk about service work and how much better their lives are," she said. "But, as many have pointed out, the presence of a child may deter members from talking about serious subjects, so I'll either just give my kid headphones and a tablet to play or do Zoom meetings when I have him."

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